Review: iPad Cases Part 3

Fitted cases for the iPad in this third MacNN case review. (November 30th, 2010)

All of these iPad cases loosely fall into the fitted case category, as opposed to slipcases or bags. They cover the back and sides of the iPad and do not have zippers or Velcro fasteners. These cases are designed to stay on your iPad when in use.

Electronista Rating:

ratingratingratingratingrating

Product Manufacturer: Belkin, Hard Candy, iFrogz, NewerTech, Speck, and SwitchEasy.

Price: Varies

The Good

  • See Reviews Below.

The Bad

  • See Reviews Below.

Now that your holiday shopping is in full swing, don't forget to put protective cases for that lovely new iPad waiting for its unboxing on your list. In my last review, I tested a number of sleeve-style cases and Jon Aziz reviewed four folio style cases. In this next installment, we look at fitted cases, which I call snap on cases; ones that do not require you to remove the iPad from the case to use it. The cases protect the iPad from bumps and scratches, but do not cover the screen. They are organized alphabetically by manufacturer.

The cases included here are the Belkin Grip Ergo for iPad and the Belkin Leather Sleeve for iPad, the Hard Candy Squish Skin, the iFrogz SoftGloss, the iFrogz LuxeLean, the NewerTech NuGuard (black and white), the SwitchEasy Nude, and the Speck Candy Shell.

iPad cases

Grip Ergo for iPad

Product Manufacturer: Belkin International, Inc.
Price: $39.99 US
This soft case has a ribbed texture on the back, which make for a good grip. Openings exist for the dock connector and the speakers, but the case covers the top switch and the volume controls with push through the flexible plastic. You have to push fairly hard on the buttons to make them work.

Belkin Grip Ergo

Belkin Grip Ergo for iPad


This is one of the heaviest cases in the group. Colors include black, blue (reviewed), and purple. As of today, only the black is still available.

Rating: 3.5 Stars.
The Good

Easy to hold.
Ribs give you a good grip.
High quality materials.
The Bad

Push through buttons.
Heavy.



Leather Sleeve for iPad

Product Manufacturer: Belkin International, Inc.
Price: $69.99 US
While the name says sleeve, this case leaves the face and controls of the iPad available for use. There is a top flap that is secured by Velcro. It also leaves the dock connector and speakers uncovered, but covers the top button and the volume control. Pushing these buttons through the case is much easier than the plastic cases.

Belkin Leather Sleeve

Belkin Leather Sleeve


This case has a nice texture and is easy to grip. The iPad fits very snugly in the sleeve, so that it is difficult to remove iPad from case. It comes in one color, black.

Rating: 4 Stars.
The Good

Nice texture.
Sturdy.
High quality materials.
The Bad

Expensive.


Squish Skin iPad Case

Product Manufacturer: Hard Candy Cases
Price: $29.95 US
As the name implies, this is a very soft case, with lots of padding. It gives the corners and back of the iPad quite a bit of protection. On the other hand, the squishiness makes this a large case and it adds significantly to the height, width, and depth to the iPad. It is one the heaviest of the cases reviewed, weighing in at about 9 ounces, which means that it adds about 35% to the weight of the iPad. In spite of the large corners, the Squish Skin has large openings for access to the ports and buttons.

 Hard Candy Squish Skin

Hard Candy Squish Skin


The skin covers the front button, but because of the soft plastic, you can just push on the depression and access the button. It comes in black, pink, blue, green, orange (reviewed), and clear.

Rating: 3.5 stars
The Good

Good protection.
Easy access to ports and buttons.

The Bad

Large.
Heavy.


iPad SoftGloss

Product Manufacturer: iFrogz
Price: $29.99 US
The soft shell iPad SoftGloss from iFrogz, is made of a rubber-like material and should absorb some bumps and shocks. The texture feels nice, and it is slightly tacky, so it is easy to grip without being sticky. There are cutouts for all of the iPad ports. A spiral pattern embedded in the back of the case looks slick and when on the iPad, it makes a nice image with the Apple logo in the center.

 iFrogz iPad SoftGloss

iFrogz iPad SoftGloss


This case should protect your iPad from any impacts, but I'm afraid I was not about to drop my iPad to test it. This case comes in pink, clear, and blue (reviewed), but the site is out of clear presently.

Rating: 4.5 Stars.
The Good

Thick and soft.
Nice texture.
Decorative pattern in the case.
The Bad

Limited colors.


iPad Luxe Lean

Product Manufacturer: iFrogz
Price: $29.99 US
This polycarbonate hard shell case has a thin velvet pad inside, which should provide good protection. The Luxe Lean has a nice texture; similar to the SoftGloss, so it's tacky without being sticky. The LuxeLean also leaves all the ports uncovered. It has thicker corners than most hard shells, so I wonder if that offers more protection.

 iFrogz iPad Luxe Lean

iFrogz iPad Luxe Lean


Like the other hard shells, the LuxeLean is thin, so it does not add to the size of the iPad, which makes storing it in a bag easy. This case also comes in a wider variety of colors than other cases: Black (reviewed), blue, iron, orange, pink, red, and teal.

Rating: 5 Stars.
The Good

Thick and soft.
Nice texture.
Padding for the back of the iPad.
Small and thin.

The Bad

None found.


NuGuard Clear Hard Case

Product Manufacturer: Newer Technology, Inc.
Price: $$24.99 US
The minimalist hard shell NuGuard Clear case covers the corners and the back of the iPad, but leaves all the ports available. If you want to protect your iPad from bumps and scratches without adding to the size, weight, or appearance of the iPad, this is a good case for you.

Newer Tech NuGuard Clear Hard Case

Newer Tech NuGuard Clear Hard Case


The clear version has an unexpected feature - you can take some decorative paper, and cut it to match the size of your iPad, and end up with a uniquely decorated iPad. Alternatively, you can probably order a skin to adhere to the case. If you prefer color, you can also order this case in red and black. When you travel, you should pair the NuGuard with a bag-style case, because it adds almost nothing to the size of the iPad.

Rating: 4 stars
The Good

Thick and soft.
Inexpensive.
Light and thin.

The Bad

No padding to protect against bumps.


CandyShell for iPad

Product Manufacturer: Speck Products
Price: $49.95 US
The Speck CandyShell is a hard shell, with buttons of its own that "pass the presses through" to the iPad's volume and screen controls. The stiff buttons make the controls somewhat hard to use. The CandyShell has a hinged flap at the bottom that exposes the dock connector, making it easy to put the iPad into a keyboard or other dock.

 Speck CandyShell

Speck CandyShell


The flap seems inconvenient if you do not use a dock, because you have to move it out of the way while charging, syncing, etc. The CandyShell comes in black, pink, purple (reviewed), and white. For another $15, you can purchase it with the ShieldView screen film two-pack. I did not test this anti-glare screen cover, but Speck claims it is non-adhesive and removable.

Rating: 3 stars
The Good

Flap covers the dock connector.
Light and thin.

The Bad

Expensive.
Case covers some of the iPad controls.
Flap covers up the speakers and muffles the sound.
Buttons are stiff, makes the controls hard to use.


Nude for iPad

Product Manufacturer: SwitchEasy Limited
Price: $$29.99 US
The SwitchEasy Nude is very similar to the NuGuard, but with smaller cutouts for the switches and ports. However, it comes with two portable foldout stands, a screen guard, and a microfiber wipe cloth. As if that's not enough for the price, SwitchEasy also includes plugs to cover the 30-pin dock connector and the headphone jacks on your iPad when they're not in use.

 SwitchEasy Nude

SwitchEasy Nude


While the foldout stands are a bit flimsy for long-term use, they are great for ad-hoc uses when I'm out and about. They fold up into a small flat package, about the size of a deck of cards, but about 1/3 as thick, so I have one in my backpack all the time. I'd rather have a real stand on my desk, but for travel, these stands do come in handy. The Nude comes in black, white, clear, fuchsia, orange, and turquoise (reviewed) Like the NuGuard, you can put the iPad into a bag when you travel without removing the case, since it adds little to no size to the iPad.

Rating: 4 stars
The Good

Light weight.
1 mm thick.
Includes useful travel stands and port covers.

The Bad

No padding to protect against bumps.


Summary

If you want a case that will protect your iPad, but do not want to remove your iPad from the case to use it, then either a shell" or folio style case is what you want. A hard case provides protection against scratches and dings, while a soft case may only provide protection against minor bumps. In this set of cases, my preference is for the iFrogz cases, with the NewerTech Nugard, and Belkin Leather Sleeve running a close second. Although the SwitchEasy Nude isn't quite as nice a case, the inclusion of the stands and port covers, make it an attractive buy.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Marshall Clow


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